68 people aboard sinking Robben Island ferry 'safely ashore'

2017-09-15 17:30
Crew and passenger transfer taking place at sea. (NSRI)

Crew and passenger transfer taking place at sea. (NSRI)

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Cape Town – Sixty-eight passengers aboard a damaged Robben Island ferry have all been safely evacuated from the sinking vessel, authorities said on Friday afternoon.  

City of Cape Town spokesperson Theo Layne said the passengers were removed from the vessel and ferried to the ferry jetty. The vessel was still out at sea.

He said no one was believed to be missing, but rescue divers were at the scene to check if any one had been left behind.

“We are doing a headcount as we speak,” he said.

Layne was unable to say how badly the ferry had been damaged or how far out it was from shore.

He said rescue operations were being complicated by extremely high seas and strong winds.

When News24 arrived at the scene, passengers were seen seated in front of heaters with blankets. The museum provided counselling for all those involved in the incident. 

Two women were taken to hospital for treatment - one complaining of back pain and another for mild hypothermia, ER24 said. 

Jorge Jabour, 38, visiting Cape Town from Brazil was seated on the deck when high sea swells caused water to spill into the vessel. 

“The waves were big, it flooded everywhere. The windows broke from the waves,” he told News24. 

He said emergency services arrived roughly ten minutes after the boat started sinking. 

“First go the children, then the older people and the women [on the ferries]. I left, I think I was on the last boat.”

“[It was] very cold. And the women and children were very scared and yes, it was tough." 

Jabour, however, said he was unfazed by the incident. 

“No, I'm fine. I'm going to my hotel, drink a good glass of wine and enjoy the rest of my time in the beautiful city.”

* This story has been updated to reflect the correct passenger count after the Robben Island museum issued the incorrect figure.

Read more on:    cape town  |  drownings

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